12 Days of Wishbook, Day 6: Help Launch a Post-Military Career

The sixth day of Wishbook is about planning.

America’s troops aren’t always going to wear their uniforms. The USO understands this, and is actively helping service members translate their skills from the battlefield to the cubicle and even up to the boardroom through a series of programs. The USO’s partnership with Hire Heroes USA has helped thousands of troops learn how to best present their skills on civilian resumes and even lets them practice their interview skills with local hiring managers during Career Opportunity Days.

And constantly evolving initiatives – like the USO’s partnership with Georgetown University – teaches transitioning troops how to start their own businesses:

This holiday season, you can help these troops – who work so hard to defend our freedom – on their way to new careers after their service ends.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 5: Video Chatting with Loved Ones from the Front Lines

The fifth day of Wishbook looks at a different form of communication.

The days of men on the front lines receiving postmarked envelopes have been replaced by email conversations and face-to-face chats over video link. The USO – with a little help from our global technology partners – has turned your donations into huge moments, like helping troops watch their children being born from a continent away:

Your Wishbook purchase can ensure the USO continues making these moments happen for our troops and their families.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 4: USO Meals for Troops and Families

Courtesy of the USO of Illinois

Courtesy of the USO of Illinois

Day 4 of the 12 Days of WIshbook is a time to focus on community.

USO centers aren’t just places to stop for a quick snack and a nap between flights. USO centers serve as a community hub on dozens of bases around the world. In an effort to boost that sense of community – and take a bit of financial burden from our younger enlisted troops with families – the USO hosts a variety of free community meals. The events take on several names – including No Dough Dinners – and usually occur a day or two before payday. That’s usually the point when lower-ranking troops – like Army Spc. Will Daugherty - and their families have stretched their paychecks to the limit:

“It’s always right before payday that we end up ordering pizza or eating off the dollar menu. It’s not ideal and the kids eat healthy when we can afford to, but you have to do what you have to do to get by, you know?” said Daugherty, a married father of four who attended a No Dough Dinner at USO Fort Riley, Kan., earlier this year. …

“I’m really glad I found out about this – right here on base. It helps us, you know? Right at the moment when we need it most.”

For just a little dough out of your pocket, you can give an extra boost to military families this holiday season, right at the moment when they need it most.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 3: Put a Hero in the Stands at a Sporting Event

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Day 3 of the 12 Days of Wishbook brings us to a little-known USO program that’s a fan favorite for troops around the world.

Our troops love sports. And our generous donors – both on the national and local level – understand this, providing the USO with thousands of tickets and funds for professional and collegiate sports events year round. It could be as big as a major donor in Boston handing off a block of courtside seats to a Celtics game, a benevolent community member dropping their unused upper deck tickets at one of our centers, or – in the case of Jessica Nash – a surprise giveaway for unsuspecting troops and their families at the USO Missouri’s center at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

“They were great seats and made for a wonderful surprise to bring home to my husband,” said Nash, whose husband is an active-duty sailor. “It was fantastic. A really, really, nice surprise by both the USO and the person who donated the tickets.”

You can help bring a great surprise to troops and their families this holiday season the same way with just a few clicks.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 2: Growing Up Kits for Kids

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Trevor Romain, center, has developed a host of kits to help military kids get through tough times. USO photo

The second day of Wishbook is dedicated to a group that can get lost in the shuffle.

Family resilience has become a major topic over last 12 years of deployments. This includes children in military families, who go can struggle through months of uncertainty while their parents are doing some dangerous work. To help these kids through the tough times, the USO partners with The Comfort Crew and the Trevor Romain Company to distribute a variety of kits tackling issues like deployment and reintegration, bullying and what to do if the unthinkable happens while their parent is serving in harm’s way.

As Romain explained during an April summit at the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., younger kids aren’t always psychologically equipped to deal with reintegration in a way their adult parents can understand.

“When children have come up to us after [presentations], really what they needed was validation of what they were going through, instead of somebody trying to fix it for them,” he said. “There was a young boy recently who came up to us and just started crying. I said ‘Are you OK?’ And he said, ‘I am now’ and turned around and walked away.”

“He needed that place to feel comfortable.”

This holiday season, you can help children in military families who are going through that same type of emotional journey by giving them the gift of a kit that lets them know they’re not alone.

Vice President Joe Biden Stops by USO-Hosted Picnic in South Korea

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Vice President Joe Biden – at the end of a diplomatic trip to Asia – dropped by Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, last weekend for a visit with service members. And despite the short notice, the USO was able to pull off a memorable meet-and-greet for hundreds of troops and their families.

“A highlight of the event was when [Biden] invited all the children to come up on stage to join him for his remarks,” USO Korea Area Director Tony Davis wrote in an email recap of the event. “Most of the kids had USO teddy bears tucked in their arms!”

The USO put on a picnic for nearly 500 troops and family members. The Eighth Army Band entertained the crowd while children had access to bouncy castles and a host of games. After speaking, Biden took time to mingle and pose for pictures with several attendees.